Guest blog: Wind Propulsion for Commercial Shipping on the Move

Guest blog by Gavin Allwright is the International Windship Association Secretary General, World Wind Energy Association non-executive board member and sits on advisory committees at UN IMO etc. Expert reviewer of IPCC 1.5C report. 

2018 and early 2019 have been a very significant period for wind propulsion and the shipping industry in general. We could say that a perfect storm is brewing for the uptake of primary (wind etc.) and secondary renewable energy (alternative fuels/energy storage) in shipping. Policy, Price, Perception, Providers and People are all starting to align. This is the message that I will be bringing to Canada and the US this Spring as part of our International Windship Association tour (events from 25 March – 11 April – )

Policy;the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) is moving forward with the Sulphur cap to be implemented at the end of the year worldwide, a ban of carriage of non-compliant fuel is locked in and the use of Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) in the Arctic is on the table, but most importantly the initial IMO targets of ‘at least’ 50% reduction in CO2 by 2050 (2008 baseline), which opens the door for that to be tightened further. This policy movement has also been given a significant boost by Maersk shipping, the largest shipping company in the world, going one step further and pledging to go carbon neutral by 2050

Price; we have significant upward pressure with HFO averaging in Q4 2018 around $500/tn, ULSFO ($650/ton) and MGO ($700/ton), already well over the magic $600 that brings ROI’s for many wind propulsion systems into the three year bracket. Of course leasing and rental options will dramatically reduce CAPEX and savings from fuel shared to pay the cost of those installations. This pressure is set to increase with an expected $100-150/ton increase when the Sulphur cap comes into force at the end of the year. An example of carbon price growth is the European Union Emissions Trading System (ETS), which has seen a huge increase in price, from $7/ton to over $20/ton of CO2 in the last 12 months, many experts are looking at $35-40 average over the next few years, however Berenberg, a leading German bank has speculated that could even rise to as much as $100/ton by the end of 2020, (that equates to $62/ton of fuel today, and a potentially game changing $320/ton fuel in 2020).
While shipping is currently outside the ETS scheme, this is a good indication of the costs of slow action on decarbonisation going forward, and we should remember that many of our customers are included. 

with some recent high profile installations of wind propulsion technologies the industry perception of the technology is shifting. We have companies as diverse as Maersk, Airbus, Drax, Renault, Chantiers de l’Atlantique, Viking Lines all getting involved with wind propulsion projects. With savings of 5-20% and possibly up to 30% available from retrofit wind-assist systems to 30% plus for new build vessels and the opportunity for ships to be primary wind auxiliaries, the industry is starting to take notice. Also the IPCC 1.5C report late last year was a wake-up call to all of us, indicating we have only 12 years until we reach that seriously challenging and potentially catastrophic benchmark and the report states a minimum of 45% CO2 reduction will be required by 2030, so action is needed – deeper and faster. As an official reviewer of that report, I was very pleased to see that a number of recommendations for key publications were included in the final draft.

that brings me to our IWSA members (100+ members, associates and registered supporters) and other low carbon technology pioneers, as you’ll see below, the movement in wind propulsion tech and project solutions is picking up pace, while we are a still some way from having large numbers of market ready rigs available, that is moving very quickly and the Flettner rotor technology has already stepped up a gear with 8 rotors installed in the last 12 months and more on order.

last but not least, our industry is a broad church and shipping has always had highly talented people in sometimes difficult positions, but there is increasingly a shift to a new generation of decision makers that are focused on the triple bottom line, engineers and designers producing ever more innovative designs and customers demanding more action on emissions from shipping.

Wind propulsion is a credible, viable and increasingly profitable option and the industry is taking notice.

Gavin Allwright                                   - IWSA Secretary-       

Canada & US Spring Tour 2019  (25 March – 11 April)

25 Mar – British Columbia Institute of Technology – Marine Transport - seminar for students & faculty
27 Mar – Port of Vancouver –
IWSA seminar hosted by Port of Vancouver (1400-1700)
29 Mar Montreal/Ottawa – IWSA seminar & policy briefings (tbc)

United States
01 Apr – Washington DC – Policy briefings in Washington DC & IWSA NGO Seminar (venue/time tbc)
02-04 Apr – CMA 2019 – Attending three days of CMA 2019 conference in Stamford, Ct. - the largest US shipping conference. (IWSA - Official Supporting Organisation). Alternative fuels and propulsion panellist on 03 April.
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05-07 Apr – San Francisco Boat Show – the Secretary will give a talk on Sunday 07 April along with local member Wind + Wing, also have their trial rig on show & booth there. IWSA & W+W seminar aboard their catamaran on Friday, 05 April (late afternoon).
08 Apr – California State Maritime Academy – seminar for students and faculty.

09-11 Apr
– Seatrade Global Cruise Conference, Miami  –
Environmental panellist , 09 April AM.
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